Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity

Physical activity and exercise might not be at the top of everyone's list during cancer treatment.

But the American Cancer Society and others have found extremely vital benefits of being active before, during, and after cancer treatment.

These include improved:

  • Endurance and physical function.
  • Strength and lean body mass.
  • Recovery outcomes after cancer treatment, such as surgery.
  • Breast cancer-related lymphedema.
  • Bone health.
  • Sleep.
  • Quality of life

Other benefits of physical activity after a cancer diagnosis include reduced:

  • Stress, fear, and depression symptoms.
  • Fatigue.
  • Treatment-related deconditioning.

How to Start Moving During and After Cancer Treatment

Getting some movement — whether during or after cancer treatment — can help you in so many ways.

Before starting any exercise program, talk with your care team about what's best for you.

To get active and moving at first, try:

  • Starting out with small intervals of activity. For instance, walk for 5 to 10 minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes each day.
  • Adding some form of resistance training at least 2 times per week to help maintain muscle size and strength. You can use your body weight, resistance bands, or weights.

Exercise plan for people currently in cancer treatment

  • Aerobic: 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
  • Resistance training: 2 times per week, focusing on the whole body.

Exercise plan for people who have finished cancer treatment

  • Aerobic: 150-300 minutes per week.
  • Resistance training: 2 times per week, focusing on the whole body.

Contact the UPMC Moving Through Cancer Program

To learn more, call 412-623-3427 or email mtchcc@upmc.edu.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center 

5115 Centre Ave., 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15232